Intrusive thoughts are unwanted thoughts, impulses or mental images that often cause significant anxiety, stress and impairment within an individual’s ability to function. These thoughts may surround the fear of committing an act one consider to be harmful, violent, immoral, sexually inappropriate, or sacrilegious. There is no intent to act on these thoughts (although your OCD may attempt to persuade you that there is that chance) and these thoughts bring no pleasure, causing extreme distress.

Harming Intrusive Thoughts consist of unwanted thoughts or images that one might harm themselves or someone else on impulse. Individuals within this OCD subtype have no intent to hurt themselves or others and the intrusive thought or image often causes a significant amount of anxiety and disturbance for these individuals. Rituals for harm OCD may include reassurance seeking, confessing and avoidance behaviors in order to prevent the possibility of acting on impulse (such as: removing knives from the home, refusing to be around sharp objects, etc.).

Examples of intrusive thoughts:

▪️Intrusive thoughts or mental images of harming/killing one’s spouse, parent, child, or self

▪️Repeatedly worrying that one has or will physically assault another person

▪️Repetitive thoughts that one has said or written something inappropriate

▪️Mental images or thoughts that one considers sacrilegious or blasphemous

Videos: Harm Intrusive Thoughts

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Harm OCD is associated with intrusive thoughts. Intrusive thoughts are unwanted thoughts, impulses or "mental images". These thoughts may surround the fear of committing an act you consider to be harmful or violent to yourself or others. There is no intent to act on these thoughts, although your OCD may attempt to persuade you that you will. These thoughts bring no pleasure and cause extreme distress. Elizabeth McIngvale, PhD, explains how exposure and response prevention (ERP) is used to treat those who suffer from Harm OCD.